If you’re a typical SEO consultant, then you’re most likely to be pretty good at ranking websites. However, getting clients requires a whole set of new skills because even though you have the skills to help people – they won’t exactly be banging down your door to buy your services.
Everyone is different, so there is no one size fits all solution. The solution is to try all of the ways and figure out which suits your personality style the best.
What is important to remember though is mindset…
You are the expert – you are the doctor who can help cure a sick patient with the perfect remedy.
You can help anyone – you’re the superhero that can change someone’s business prospects, and create long term success.
To begin with, do what Simon Sinek said in his Ted talk Start With The Why.
So what is the ‘Why’ of the businesses that you are going to contact?
The obvious answer is more customers, which equals more profit, which equals business growth. You also are competing with 10 other sales calls per day that each business owner gets who are promising something along these lines.
But it is more than that – in reality, what does more profit and business growth mean to the business owner?
Does the business owner have a family they want to provide the best for?
Do they want to send their kids to university?
Do they want to take more holidays each year?
Do they want to expand their business and if so how does that look?
Do they want to be the number 1 in their area?
Do they want to beat their local rivals they don’t like?
Do they want to be able to easily pay all their staff and not have to sack anybody?
These are all personal questions that you just don’t know the answer to until you have a conversation with the business owner.
The thing to remember is to start with this frame of mind since when looking for clients, you will naturally interact with that person on a real level as a human being. It is very easy to get into the mode of spammy sales like tactics because it is about getting through the numbers of business owners to find the interested ones. So you need to stand out, do something different, do something interesting and do something personal to them and their business.
As the Jordan Belfort says – “You get into immediate rapport when people know that you care, that you’re sharp as a tack and enthusiastic as hell – once you have done this you can then gather intelligence”
Another useful thing is to pick 2 or 3 niches that you would like to work in. This will mean you are an expert at SEO and also an expert in their industry. Over time you will have lots of case studies from the same niche that makes the selling 10 times easier.
Do your research on the niche and find out how businesses are getting their clients now. Concentrate on how businesses on the 2nd and 3rd pages of Google get their business because they aren’t getting it from Google right now.
You can even call up a few businesses in the niche and just ask them – Hey how are you getting customers right now?. They will probably tell you if it is mostly word of mouth or something like Yellow Pages or Google Ads. Then, ask them, how much are they spending each month on this? That way you have a real idea of the lead generation tactics of businesses in that niche that aren’t doing as good as the businesses at the top of Google.
Another thing that you want to make sure of is that you target businesses that can afford your service. A good SEO campaign may take 6 to 12 months to fully kick into gear and start seeing the fruits of the labour. You might have some low hanging fruit that you might be able to get to the top of Google in a few months but either way, there is a lag time between starting the SEO and the client seeing a return on their investment.
So either you have some other way to get the clients an ROI in the first month or two by using things like Google ads or Facebook ads or you find clients that are willing and able to pay £1000 per month over the next 6 months.
In essence, you are looking for
To put it into context there are different types of business sizes with different ambitions in your niche.
Self-employed solopreneur roofers – these types should be ignored.
Startup and small companies – these companies may have a few employees and may have been around for a little while with some happy customers and a decent track record. Although these are the perfect scenario in terms of getting them to the top 3 of Google could dramatically change their business. They are also going to be tight on money a lot of the time, it is painful for them to grow because adding employees is a painful and expensive process. Also, leadership is probably lacking because it takes a good leader to take a small company and make it into a medium-sized company. There will be some diamonds in the rough in this category, who have the ambition to grow and have the resources to do so. The other plus side of smaller businesses is that you can potentially negotiate either commission on future sales or take a partnership in the business because of the SEO magic you worked for them – that may deserve a percentage of the company, not just a monthly retainer.
Medium-sized companies – These are the ones to target because they have been around long enough to have all their systems in place and well oiled. They probably have more than 10 staff so they know how to bring new people on to take care of the extra workload. They have resources they can invest, and they probably have already seen some benefit from Google through Google ads. Generally, they have the ambition to grow because it’s that mindset which got them from a small company to medium company size. The downsides are that they might already have agencies working on their website and getting in contact with the owner might be a little trickier. But these companies can easily pay you £1000 – £2000 per month and not worry too much about the cost. They also have lots of upsell potential because they will also need Google ads, or Facebook ads, maybe a new website or their current website to be optimised to convert better (an extra 10% conversion rate could be mean 10’s of thousands of pounds to their bottom line each year).
Large companies – Obviously these tick all the boxes, but are much much more difficult to get on board. Usually, large companies come to you because they have found you somewhere, for example, an article on Forbes or a major SEO site. The other way to get large companies interest is the ‘notch up’ technique. This is where you work with a business in the niche; let’s say that the business is ranked 3 out of 10 for importance and the large business is 7 out of 10. You work with the 3 out of 10 first then get in contact with people who see that business as good and show them you have worked with the 3 out of 10 businesses. Eventually, you arrive at a point where you have worked with enough businesses similar to the large business that it becomes an easy introduction and easier sale.
When you have picked your niche, you then want to do some research and figure out a few things about the businesses in this niche.
When you have an idea of these, you then have a better pitch to use on these businesses. They will see that you understand their world and that you get the lingo and the business model. You will also be able to justify your cost because you can show – when we rank you higher on Google for XYZhigh-quality keywords, you get X amount of visitors to your website which will mean Y amount of customers. Starting the relationship by showing how you can create more revenue for the business.
Now, let’s look at all the ways to get prospects for your SEO agency.
When it comes to Google – every business is naked. By that, I mean where a business ranks on Google and how that business is displayed across the internet is plain to see and indisputable. So you know that every company that is on page 2 of Google and beyond are not getting their customers from Google searches.
So when you have picked your niche – simply type into Google “]your niche] London” and then you have a list of companies that could do with your help. Then repeat this for every major city in your country and then you will have a long list of great potential clients.
The trick is to find companies that already have a good looking website. This is because it shows that they have invested money into their online presence, so they have money and they probably want to put that nice website to good use. A good looking and easy to use website is also good for conversions so when you rank them on Google, they will get better results compared to a not so good looking website. This is how you narrow down a long list of potential prospects to a shortlist of the ones you would like to work with.
Then use the chrome plugin hunter.io to find the business owners email address, or go on Linkedin and find the business owner there, and contact them on Linkedin instead. Either way, go for the business owner first, then work your way down to Directors and Managers.
Once you have their email address it is time to send them an email and do a website analysis to show them how they can grow their business -This is covered further down the page.
One of the easiest ways to find companies in your niche with money is, to do a search for “[your niche] London” and find all the businesses that are advertising on Google ads. You know they have money to spend because Google ads are not cheap. You also know they want to grow their business and Google ads are one of the main ways they might be getting their customers.
If this is where you find them, then it is a good idea to find ways they can improve their ads – as a nice little bit of free value to them. They probably have someone taking care of their ads currently, so you are not trying to replace the current agency that is doing their ads – just point out they are missing a trick. You want to give the impression that you are happy to work with their current setup and that you can integrate easily with it. The current agency that is taking care of their ads is currently a partner, and as someone who is trying to get into the business as another partner – you have to place nice with the ones that are already there.
Naturally, we are here for SEO, so you mainly want to concentrate on that and perform a website analysis to show them how they can grow their business.
How many times have you purchased something without reading reviews? We like to see reviews, so when a company has very few or poor reviews – this is a problem for the business. Studies have shown that customers like to read 10 reviews on average before they trust a business and buy from it. The younger the customer, the more reviews they read.
So the goal is to find these businesses by searching in Google “[your niche] London” and going to the Google Maps section, then list down all the businesses outside the top 3 and with only a few reviews. You should approach these companies with the dual goal of SEO and reputation management.
One thing to note is on review sites like Google reviews, they aren’t usually ordered by most recent – instead, it is usually most helpful. So you can easily help them upvote their best reviews to the top to influence the order of reviews. You can also create a standardised email template for the business to send to customers which encourages reviewers to talk about the factors future customers are looking for. This will help to get keywords in the review, which will help them rank higher in Google Maps.
Things to ask customers to get good reviews include:
What service or product did you have?
Who did you deal with?
What did you think of the results?
Would you recommend us?
I know what I am saying here is borderline heresy and blasphemy because sitting on a computer in a dark room, alone and not speaking to any humans is how SEO consultants like to work. Now there will be some outliers (you lucky people) who are quite happy going to meetup’s and talking to people and doing the networking thing.
If you’re an extravert, you already know what you’re doing in the social game of life. The only caveat is that extraverts tend to like to talk a lot – one great tip for networking is to listen a lot and ask questions. As an extrovert, you will be comfortable in large groups and be able to get a conversation with almost anyone. The best extroverts I have seen at network meetings have spoken to nearly everyone by the end of the meeting, they have their contact details and have prepared them for a consultation call. One thing you could learn from introverts is to hang back for 20 minutes at the start of the meetup, scan the room and pick out the people who stand out the most and talk to them first. Also, extraverts tend to over-promise and it can sometimes come off as salesy or disingenuous. So focus on tangible and real results because they can’t be disputed.
If you’re an introvert, then it becomes a little trickier because you have to manage your energy levels due to interacting with too many people can become energy draining. Also as an introvert, you will naturally listen more than most people, which is good but you should also have some go-to conversation topics to talk about to keep conversations going. One thing you could learn from extroverts is to open up and talk to more people. The way to do this is to find a good solid valuable person who has been going to meet up for a little while and people in the group. Once you have had a decent conversation with this person, they will be able to introduce you to people that might be of interest because they know the group well. Sometimes this is the organiser of the group, sometimes it is just a regular member. This way you control the energy needed to network and you target people like a sniper. You will also need more time to connect with people as you will naturally have longer conversations than extraverts, so your value goes up over time the more you go to the same meetup. The downside to this is that if it is a one-off meetup and you have to do all your networking in 1 session. For these 1 day only events you need to work quickly and with absolute focus on finding what you are looking for.
There are 3 types of meetups.
These are usually held in arenas because there are a lot of people coming from far and wide to find out the latest hot topics of the industry. These are all great potential customers because they are going out of their way to travel and pay to go to this event. They also might be taking time out of their week to go to the event instead of working, which means their business is stable enough that they can be out of it for a day and it doesn’t make any difference.
The downside of these is that there are a lot of people which makes it harder to find the right people and it is trickier to start and hold conversations because of so much going on.
There is a lot of random chance involved with these events, the only way to increase your chances is to have a booth where people can visit (make sure you tailor your message directly to the niche) or be a speaker giving SEO advice for this particular niche. These require capital and a lot of effort though.
These are the same as the industry conferences except it is more the more general businesses that are attending. They have the same pro’s and con’s as the industry conferences except you can’t tailor your message exactly to the businesses because it is all sorts of businesses that attend.
A great way to find business owners is on Linkedin, sign up for the membership so you can do proper searches. Then simply find all the business owners in your chosen niche, then reach out to them with a personal message that is tailored to them.
The way to do it on Facebook is to advertise to Facebook admins who are in your chosen niche, this will get your ads shown to the business owners.
The other way is to join groups in your chosen niche and create some content on how business owners in your niche can get quick wins with SEO. You normally can’t try and sell your services directly in the group, so you are looking to be helpful and want to make a genuine connection with people.
By creating high quality content you will stand out and become an asset for the group, then you will start getting some of the members messaging you asking for general help, and now you have a conversation.
As SEO’s we get caught up in going for the trophy keywords, our egos demand it. Although those keywords are good, you should also look to specialise. Once you have chosen your niche, you should mould your agency website around that niche. It is easier to rank for an SEO agency for plumbers than for an SEO agency in London.
This will give you two things
When it comes to success it is the 80/20 rule, the best agencies will get most of the leads because they are ranking at the top of Google and have a great business in place. So a lot of them probably get a lot of leads that are too small for them, because successful agencies can charge higher, it is not worth the time for smaller clients.
So even though you are having a friendly competition on Google with your rival agencies in the area, it is a good idea to connect with them and they will be happy to pass you some business. Or you can go to other cities and find the top agencies in each city and do the same.
An alternative to this is finding related companies to SEO, for example, PPC agencies, Facebook agencies and website designers. They have paying clients and they might be happy to white label (make your service their own) your service so they can offer extra services to their clients.
One often-overlooked way to find good prospects is to take a look at magazines and websites in the niche you have chosen. These specialist places will have advertisements on, which means they have money to spend. You will also be able to see what they are spending their advertising money on which will give you an idea of their best selling products or service.
You may also hear adverts for companies in your niche on the radio, especially the local radio stations. Again you know they have a budget to spend to acquire customers, so do your research and get in contact.
Once you have chosen your niche, and you have made your list of prospects with one of the methods above. Now is the time to send them a message that they are going to respond to. The tone you want to convey is helpful and curious, not salesy and businesslike.
So a great email template to use is
I found your website on Google, unfortunately, it was on the 3rd page.
Your competitors are getting all the customers for ‘keyword’, that is a lot of extra revenue you are missing out on.
We specialise with ranking dentists on the first page of Google.
This is the first time that we have spoken, so I don’t know what your business strategy is or what your growth plans are.
If you are happy with your current business situation then I wish you well and Good Luck!
But if you are open to increasing your customer base and driving more sales for your dentistry, then we can help.
In fact, I have made a video about your website showing why your top 3 competitors are outranking you and what you can do about it.
Are you the right person to send this video?
If you are, please reply to this email, and I’ll send it over. Otherwise, just let me know.
What this allows you to do is to contact a lot of businesses very quickly, and only create video website audits for the ones that reply. You want to make sure you follow up because emails get ignored and lost, it also comes across as less spammy if a week later you have a follow-up email.
Noah Carey is a content writer at SERPWizz, and has written such classics as A Beginner’s Guide To Generating Leads The Inbound Way, and How To Turn Whatsapp Into A Power Customer Tool. He also attends the University of Pennsylvania, where he studies English, because he likes reading and writing, and runs for their track and field team because he likes running in circles. For more on Noah, check out his LinkedIn!